Getting a small business off the ground is challenging enough. Keeping up with every new trend, technological advance and social media tool can make anyone’s head spin. With that in mind, we scoured the Web for some expert analysis on factors for entrepreneurs to look for in 2015. Here’s a look at what we found.
- Embrace the cloud: Cloud technology — as in computer data storage accessed through the Web — has been around for several years now. Jackie Nagel, founder of strategy company Synnovatia, writes that small businesses need to get on board with the cloud benefits and advantages in a trends piece for The Huffington Post.
Cloud automation tools add simplification to many business processes, allowing us to rethink our workflows, save time and money and develop new, better, simpler ways of working,” she says. “What happens to the small businesses that fails to adapt to cloud computing and automation? Unfortunately, they are left behind as buyers flock to service providers that are agile and quick.”
- Use ‘big data’: The phrase might seem awfully vague and perplexing. (“Big” data, as opposed to “small” data?) Here’s a good way to define it, courtesy of Forbes’ Lisa Arthur: “Big data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.” Using this information may give small business owners insight into what’s working and what’s not. Boland Jones, founder and CEO of web conference and communication company PGi, includes this in his trends piece for entrepreneur.com.
… As the technology to collect and analyze data has become more sophisticated and readily available, the deluge can drown you if you’re not careful. Or even worse, you can drown it out. Anyone can collect data, but the difference makers moving forward will be those that can turn those mountains of data into action through sharing, analysis and application. Every decision you make as an entrepreneur is infinitely more perilous than a larger organization that has the resources to easily make mistakes and course correct. By understanding how to intelligently apply the data you’re collecting, you can make those decisions more confidently.”
- Make the most of mobile: It wasn’t all that long ago that purchasing something via the Internet was a new concept. Now with mobile technology, the scope and opportunity expands even more. Ross Rubin, founder of Reticle Research, writes about mobile trends to look for in a story for inc.com.
If you’re part of a business that collects mobile payments, you may know that Square made it easy for people to accept payment from credit cards anywhere,” he says. “But now, the phone can be used to make payments as well as receive them. There are many alternatives in the market, including Square, PayPal and WePay, but clearly there’s been even more attention on them with the introduction of Apple Pay. Look for products such as the Poynt terminal to deal with payments any way customers wish to make them.”
- Millennials matter: Depending on their brand and approach, new small business owners may not instantly connect with young people. But they cannot ignore the importance of the demographic, and all that goes with it, including buying habits and social media. Matt Meltzer, a professor of business communication at the University of Miami, explores this in a piece for Business Financial Services.
… Just don’t let your business become that old man on the porch complaining about the kids,” he says. “Even if you don’t think your product necessarily appeals to a younger or under-represented audience, find a way for it to do that. Millennials make up over a quarter of the population, and nearly half say they depend on social media to make purchase.”
- Social-media integration: Speaking of social media, any small business owner resistant to it, and specifically how it can be used to market a business, will need to evolve — and fast. Taking advantage of social media’s benefits is crucial, as is keeping up with the various new bells and whistles that pop up with it. Peter Roesler examines this in a trends piece for inc.com.
Social media isn’t anything new, but marketers will need to work at finding new ways to integrate social media into all of their campaigns,” he writes. “Adding social sharing options to websites, blogs and email messages can greatly increase the range and effectiveness of the campaign. … This is an area where marketers need to be continually vigilant. Every year, the major social media networks add a lot of new features to their platform that make them more usable for marketers. For example, in 2014, Twitter added new Amazon.com integrations, and Facebook added Local Awareness Ads. Marketers should keep an eye on advances in social media marketing throughout the year, and try to integrate them into their strategy.”